How to have a happier retirement
A person who has just retired may worry about how to live on a more restricted budget. It’s important to plan for each stage and regularly revise your plans.
Currently around half of all Australians die without a will, leaving their families to deal with a complicated legal process. If this happens, assets will be divided up among the beneficiaries according to the law of the state you live in rather than your personal wishes. So if you want your wishes to be carried out, consider these things.
Transferring your investments
Seek Public Trustee help or employ a solicitor
Consulting the relevant Public Trustee or a solicitor should ease your legal concerns and help eliminate any problems you may anticipate. Either one can help you to choose an executor and make sure your will is correctly drawn up, properly signed and witnessed. They will also hold the will for you.
If your wishes are clearly and legally spelled out, they will be hard to contest – although this can still happen if someone feels they should have been provided for and weren’t.
Choose your executor/s carefully
Your executor must be someone you trust completely as they will be responsible for putting your wishes into action, plus collecting all your assets and paying taxes, debts and other expenses. They can be your partner, a friend, a relative or your solicitor but make sure they are comfortable taking on the job.
Keep your will up to date
Once you’ve set up your will, you can alter it if circumstances change – such as a marriage or divorce, the arrival of children or grandchildren. Minor changes can be made using a codicil (a document signed by two witnesses and to be read with the will) but if the changes are major, a new will is recommended.
Each Australian state and territory has a Public Trustee to help people make valid wills. It’s important to make sure you get guidance, as your will is binding on your death. In NSW, the Public Trustee cautions against do-it-yourself will kits for that very reason.
Have a look online at the Public Trustee for your state to help with your will planning:
Review your insurance
An insurance policy can give you the peace of mind that your financial plan will be protected. Life insurance policies can allow you to directly nominate who should receive the proceeds of the policy if you die.
The financial angle
Once you’re confident your estate planning is set up properly, make sure you keep an eye on the financial side of things. Take a regular look at your investment strategy to ensure you maximise the value you get from it, now and in the future. And don’t be afraid to change it if you think your needs are changing. Talk to your financial adviser so that your financial plan remains up to date.
If you don’t have a financial adviser, the Financial Planning Association (FPA) website has a section called ‘Find an Adviser’, where you can search for an adviser in your postcode area. You can also download a booklet called ‘Getting Advice’, which provides useful information and a checklist of questions you can ask your potential adviser. Visit www.fpa.asn.au or call 1800 337 301.